By Carlos Gamino

An appeal is a request for a higher court to review a lower court’s decision – and in many criminal cases, it’s a logical next step. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an Appeal?

When a judge makes a bad decision, you could be eligible to file an appeal. That means you would go to the next-higher court (the appeals court) and ask a different judge to take a look at the original judge’s decision.

Related: 10 common legal terms you need to know

What Are the Reasons for an Appeal?

There are several reasons a person may want to appeal a criminal conviction – but simply disagreeing with a judge’s decision isn’t likely to get your case heard in an appeals court. Generally speaking, you must have legal basis for an appeal, which means something in the law says your case’s outcome was wrong.

Some of the most common reasons people choose to file appeals include:

  • Ineffective assistance of counsel, which means your lawyer during the original trial didn’t do things he or she should have. That can mean your attorney didn’t call a key witness on your behalf, talk to you about a plea deal the prosecutor offered or did something that showed legal incompetence.
  • Problems with evidence, such as the inclusion or exclusion of certain evidence – or even a lack of sufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict.
  • Plain error, which covers things like mistakes the judge makes during the trial, sentencing errors after your conviction or errors in jury instructions.

Related: More common reasons to appeal a criminal case

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Appealing Your Case?

You may be eligible to file an appeal for many reasons – and if you think you are, you should talk to an attorney. You can call our office at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to discuss your case, find out whether we can help you, and give you advice you can use to start moving forward.

Carlos Gamino